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What's the deal with flatwounds?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by tony61, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. tony61


    Feb 21, 2006
    North Jersey
    Hi, this is my 1st post on this board. I'm practicing bass to play out w/my band, been playing guitar- mostly acoustic- for over 20 yrs, electric bass for not long. OK so, I ain't ignorant, I just ain't been educated. I just bought a P-bass, really its a MIM Special with a Jazz neck (maple), Jazz bridge p/u & active electronics. (Don't be knockin' it, because I'm in love) I also have a MIK Hartke w/active p/u's, which actually plays real nice just not nailing the sound I want.

    I find that when using the P-bass p/u only, its near the sound I'm looking for. It's got the stock Fender strings on it now, roundwound. I have a set of Rotosounds on the Hartke & a new set of DR Hi-Beams in the box. But based on things I've read, like slaying people 'cuz they "showed up with flatwounds", I'm curious about putting flatwounds on the Fender- what do I gain with flatwounds, what's the deal with them vs roundwounds? FYI, we are (trying to be a good) hard/funk rock cover band- the Clash, Kravitz, INXS, Led Zep, jam-band stuff, reggae etc. I know you'll wanna know what amp I'm using but I'm already too long with this question!!! I have a Hartke kickback for now.
  2. jhfva


    May 2, 2004
    Roanoke, VA
    Or loose. It all depends on you.

    Everyone told me to forget flatwounds, so I did. Then I bought a fretless. Everyone said use only flatwounds. So I was confused and decided why not try them on the fretted bass.

    They were Chromes because they were the only flats in stock. I loved the sound.

    What I gain was a flat, classic bass sound, which I was looking for. No noise finger noise which works well with my low action. Longer string life, which might be because I'm happy with the sound.
  3. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Flat pluses

    + No finger noise
    + warm bassy tone
    + they thump or have less sustain => more articulate
    + are used in all types of music
    + seem to last a long time compared to round wounds
    + less fret ware


    - Not much modern bright tone (Entwisle, Squire, Geddy)
    - Will not get you a Marcus Miller slap tone
    - Hard to get the G string pop or snap
    - May be boomy in some rooms
    - Not as much sustain
    - cost more

    Some may debate some of the specifics above. There may be exceptions but the above statements should trend well IMO.

  4. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I'm not that informed on strings other than roundwounds, but is there such thing as a "semi-flatwound" string? Like a string that is physically between a roundwound and flatwound and also has a sound between one of a flatwound and one of a roundwound.
  5. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    There's groundwounds, which are roundwound but then ground flat. sposed to be the best of both worlds, never tried them personally...

    I think there's also tapewound, half wound etc. i'm sure there's plenty of guys on here who know more about 'em than i do :D

    Oh and by the way, welcome to talkbass! :hyper:
  6. tony61


    Feb 21, 2006
    North Jersey
    OK well, cool- Dave you summed it up I think! I'll try 'em but keep the old round set handy. As for lasting longer, I've had the same (round) strings on for a couple months & they're alright. I only slap a little bit in a few songs. Thanks!
  7. paul n

    paul n

    May 6, 2005
    Arden, NC
    There's also compresion wound, round wounds that have been squished by running the strings through rollers. Both Alembic and Fodera offer 'em. They sound like slightly broken in roundwounds, but feel smoother and are suposed to last longer.

    ~Paul :)
  8. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT
    I never have, but I can't see using flatwounds on my fretted bass. I've only had D'addario flatwounds on my fretless, but i'm going to be trying DR hi beams and sunbeams on it this week. I think i'll like one of those two better, since I slap with frets or without.
  9. Fawkes007


    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    Ask Steve Harris. He uses flats on his fretted P-bass. As I have been learning a lot of Iron Maiden songs recently (and I use rounds), I can kinda understand why he uses flats (lots of staccato work on those Maiden tunes, which brings lots string noise).

    My first pro bass was a brand new '77 MM StingRay...and it came with flat wounds! It sounded great, and I had the strings on there for about a year. I switched over the rounds because I was going for that piano like tone...still use rounds to this day, and it is my sound. But now I am gassing for a coral pink Lakland Glaub with flats...
  10. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    Early Zeppelin had flats on it. For a great definition of flat sound check out James Jamerson on Motown songs such as
    What's Going On -Marvin Gaye
    Home Cookin' - Jr. Walker and the Allstars
    and most of the hits that came out of motown.
    Also check out Duck Dunn with Booker T. and M.G.'s with Duck Dunn on bass. Both he and Jamerson played pbass's with flats. The sound will fit with most anything. I played funk, jazz, blues, classic rock, country, metal and even punk and flats.
    Flats rock.
  11. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    So which one sounds the most like a roundwound but will wear the fingerboard of a fretless the least?
  12. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    groundwound i think. but don't quote me on that...
  13. Think your right there - my bass teacher uses groundwounds on his fretless and they look and sound like rounds...

    (oops! I quoted you...ah well, at least I backed U up eh?)